Not filing tax returns on time is not the end of the world, but it can get costly. But let’s focus on the positives first. If you do not owe anything, but instead are expecting a refund, there is no penalty for not filing taxes. The late filing penalty and interest fees apply only when you have a tax liability. For that reason, it’s best to file as soon as possible and make the largest possible payment. This can minimize overall impact of fines because they are assessed on the amount you owe. Filing taxes 60 days after the deadline means your penalty is at least $210 or 100% of the unpaid tax, whichever is less.
There is another reason to be in good standing with the IRS. Taxpayers who file taxes and make payments on time can qualify for first time penalty relief. In case you are experiencing economic hardship, the IRS will more likely agree to a penalty abatement.
Currently, the fastest and most efficient way to file taxes is online. IRS in partnership with commercial tax filing software providers offers free filing service to taxpayers with income below $66,000. The same software can be used to file for extension.
There is also a Free File software lookup tool helping you choose the right product for you. All it takes is to answer a few simple questions and get a list of qualifying products.
To file for extension, Form 4868, click here.
Remember that this is also the prime time for scammers to get to work. The IRS doesn’t initiate contact via email or phone. Instead, it mails notices describing an issue and a phone number to contact. Anyone calling claiming to be an IRS agent and threatens consequences for not making a payment at that moment is a fraud.